Regional PMI - Business activity and employment continue to rise

11 December 2017

  • North West leads a UK-wide increase in business activity, with Wales also seeing strong growth
  • Employment rises in all regions except the South East
  • Businesses raise prices at fastest rate for over nine years

Business activity rose across all UK regions in November, led by strong growth in the North West of England and Wales, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

The North West business activity index – a measure that tracks changes in total output across the manufacturing and service sectors – increased to 58.5 in November, its highest reading in over three years. Wales (58.3) saw a further rise in business activity after growth reached a nine-month high in October.

The Lloyds Bank Regional PMI is the leading economic health-check of regions across the UK. A reading greater than 50 represents growth in business activity, while a reading below 50 indicates a contraction. The greater the deviation from the 50 mark, the faster the rate of change.

Other strong performances were recorded in the East of England (57.3) and East Midlands (56.0), with the latter seeing growth accelerate to a three-month high. Conversely, Scotland (50.2) saw a substantial loss of momentum as growth slowed to the weakest in eight months.

Business expansion and efforts to boost capacity continued to result in higher employment levels across the private sector economy. The fastest rates of job creation in November were recorded in the East of England and Yorkshire & Humber while the only region to see a decrease in employment was the South East, where workforce numbers fell marginally and for the first time in 16 months.

The data, meanwhile, pointed to a pick-up in inflationary pressures, with businesses raising charges for goods and services at the fastest rate for more than nine years in November.

Scott Barton, Managing Director of Mid-Markets, Lloyds Banking Group said: “Business activity was up in all areas of the UK in November, leaving an expectation that the economy is on course for a further steady expansion in the fourth quarter.

“It was encouraging to see firms continuing to add to their workforce numbers. A slight fall in employment in the South East was the only mark on a generally positive picture for the labour market.

“Inflationary pressures continue to persist, with businesses raising prices for goods and services at the fastest rate we’ve seen for the best part of a decade.”